Differences in microhabitat selection between Chinese white-bellied rats (Niviventer confucianus) and Korean field mice (Apodemus peninsulae) in different habitat types and seasons
HUANG Guangchuan, SI Junjie, MENG Xin, CHEN Zhiwen, ZHANG Hongmao
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Microhabitat selection differentiation is an important factor for the coexistence of sympatric animals. Chinese white-bellied rats (Niviventer confucianus CWR) and Korean field mice (Apodemus peninsulae KFM) are common rodent species that share similar habitats (e.g., shrub and forest), rhythms (nocturnal) and diets (e.g., plant seeds) in the Donglingshan area, western Beijing city, China. However, we know little about why they coexist with each other. Here, we studied microhabitat selection of CWR and KFM in different habitats and seasons from May to October in 2016 and 2017. We wanted to know if the two rodent species have different microhabitat preferences that contribute to coexistence. In shrub, in spring, CWR preferred in places with higher arbor density, higher herb coverage and relatively lower litter coverage, while KFM selected higher diameter at breast height (DBH) and litter coverage, but lower herb coverage microhabitats. Principal component analysis showed that surface cover was the key factor affecting microhabitat choices of the two species. In shrub, in autumn, CWR preferred to select microhabitats with more arbor species, higher shrub density and herb coverage microhabitats, while KFM preferred microhabitats with larger DBH, longer shrub distances, higher ratio of open field and litter coverage. Food abundance was the key factor in determining the microhabitat selection. In abandoned farmland, in spring, CWR selected microhabitats with higher shrub density and herb coverage, whereas KFM preferred to select higher canopy coverage, DBH and litter coverage, but lower herb coverage microhabitats. Surface cover was the key factor that affected the microhabitat choices. In abandoned farmland, in autumn, CWR preferred microhabitats with relatively low canopy coverage and litter coverage, while KFM’s selection was on the opposite. Food abundance was the main factor that determined their microhabitatselections. In secondary forests, in autumn, CWR preferred microhabitats with higher shrub density, shrub base diameter and herb coverage, while KFM liked microhabitats with higher DBH and litter coverage, but lower shrub density and herb coverage. Surface cover was the key factor that influenced the microhabitat selections. The case in spring in secondary forest was not analyzed due to small sample sizes. These results suggest that there are different microhabitat preferences between CWR and KFM along habitat types and seasons, therefore promoting their coexistence.